Rooting for the Enemy

Posted: July 13, 2011 by Realdeal in Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins
Tags: , , ,

Ten years ago (hell, even five years ago) if you had told me I would own a Jaromir Jagr shirt, I would have called you crazy and then kicked you out of my house.  The guy tortured Flyers fans for 17 years.  The Spectrum played Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady” when Jagr was an opponent.  An anagram for his name (Jaromir) is Mario Jr., and he was the enemy, just like Mario was.  Even after he moved away from Mario to Washington and later New York, two more teams we hate, we continued  to despise him.  It was a perfect fit, one of our favorite players to hate playing for three of our most hated teams.

But the shirt is in a dresser in my room.  Orange and black with the #68 on it.  I own a shirt that says “Jagr” on it.  He is one of us.  The guy we called “Jagirl”.  We root for him now.

How can we, as Flyers fans, root for a guy who torched the Flyers for 54 goals and 120 points in 95 regular season and playoff games?

Believe it or not, most Flyers fans are on board with the move.  Most cite his powerplay abilities and his experience.  They still think he can contribute (albeit not at his MVP level), but enough to help the Flyers.  Some still think it’s weird to have him on board, as @AirRaiders says it feels like “British supporters when they heard Benedict Arnold was on their side.”  Well, it’s not exactly a crime, but it feels like it to Pittsburgh fans.  He turned his back on the Penguins and joined one of their most hated rivals.  It doesn’t get any closer to a crime than that.  (But some Philly fans are taking pleasure in seeing Pens fans upset.)

Can people put the prior rivalry behind them? Of course, for the good of the team.  The old motto “root for the crest on the front, not the name on the back” is true here.  Anything to help the team win is good in the fans’ books.  The first time he scores on the powerplay (assisted by Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk) and the Flyers win, all the bad memories will be forgotten.


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